Ashley's Little Angels provides kids with clothes and gifts

2011-12-29T00:00:00Z 2011-12-29T06:25:12Z Ashley's Little Angels provides kids with clothes and giftsBy Nathan Hansen | Winona Daily News La Crosse Tribune
December 29, 2011 12:00 am  • 

When the Ashley Furniture semitrailer rolled up in Independence to deliver food, clothing and gifts to children in the community, not all the families were able to be there to pick up the donations.

So Sharon Fernholz, a teacher in the Independence School District, volunteered her car to deliver food for five of the 13 families.

There almost wasn't enough room for all the gifts, and Fernholz teared up at the generosity. "You have no idea how much it means to these families," she said.

Ashley served 160 children across Trempealeau County through a program called Ashley's Little Angels, a nonprofit now in its fifth year at the company's Wisconsin location.

Ashley employee Tom Qualman helped found the Wisconsin chapter of the organization after hearing delivery drivers in Mississippi talk about the program, which began there in 1997.

"We really felt we needed to get something started up here," Qualman said.

In 2007, the program helped about seven kids in Arcadia, and has grown ever since. Each child receives four outfits, socks, underwear, shoes and a coat if desired. In addition, the family receives a food basket and sometimes a special gift requested by the children.

Independence School District counselor Dawn Woychik said the need for this program is growing.

"I see a lot of kids who wouldn't have a Christmas without this," she said.

Copyright 2015 La Crosse Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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